Students perform patriotic play

By Angela Peacock

They stood at attention with one hand over their hearts while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. That was only the beginning of a patriotic tribute to America performed Friday morning by an estimated 140 James Elementary third-graders.
The annual patriotic play takes months of preparation, third-grade teacher Sally Smith said
The play covers various concepts of American history, and how those ideas still apply in today’s democratic society.
The play allowed for a hands-on opportunity to teach children the most influential aspects of our country’s history without having to simply rely on the text book, Smith said. She said the process gives students a better understanding of how our country works and why it’s important for people to appreciate what past Americans have sacrificed to ensure the United States remains a free country.
“The play was to show everyone that we enjoy being Americans and to show how we can use our freedoms to be whatever we want when we grow up,” said student Kelsey Prince. “Kids have the chance to do things right for our country by not doing drugs or terrorism and by not littering and other things that make our country look bad.”
Since January, the children have read books and conducted research on issues ranging from the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights to slavery and segregation.
Smith witnessed her class absorb a lot of American history facts, but said what fascinated them the most was the concept that all Americans have equal rights and liberties, enabling them to accomplish any dream imaginable.
“The children were astonished to learn about their rights and how they can use them to really make a difference in the world,” Smith said. “When the students learned that in other countries some children weren’t fortunate enough to attend school and had to stay at home and work all day, it helped them learn to respect education.”
Teaching students that America is a country where opportunity is available for everyone is one lesson third-grade teacher Glenda Meeks hopes her students never forget.
She said the children practiced for the play every day for a month, and said they gained more than knowledge about U.S. history.
“The children learned that in order to make the play happen they had to cooperate with each other, and that they had a responsibility to learn their lines and come to school every day for practice,” Meeks said.
“Since the first day of practice the children have been so excited; they gave it 100 percent each day. Their goal was to have an excellent performance and I know they’ll remember this day forever.”